Saturday, July 23, 2011

There goes a narwhal

Day 4 of our vacation was dominated by a trip to the Field Museum in Chicago. This was the boys' and Wife's first visit to the museum, and I hadn't been there since 1982. With rain forecast for much of the afternoon, an inside event seemed the perfect plan, especially after worrying about thunderstorms yesterday at the Cubs game (and then dealing with the heat).

After driving downtown and accepting we'd have to pay $30 for parking (the Field Museum is adjacent to Soldier Field, where the Chicago Fire were hosting Manchester United today, hence the insane parking cost), we entered the museum and encountered Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever discovered. As a dinosaur nut as a child (and still a fan as a grownup), I remember my other two visits to the Field Museum to see the dinosaurs. I felt a little of that giddiness seeing this giant T-Rex for the first time. But our day was just beginning.

After walking through the Polynesian exhibit, we took a break for lunch outside, then came back in to see more dinosaurs and other prehistoric displays. We saw a 3-D movie about Sue, which the boys loved, then continued exploring the rest of the museum.

Maybe it was the 29 years between visits, but I forgot how mammoth (no pun intended, because we did see a mammoth ...) the Field Museum is. We headed toward the Nature Walk, with its displays of animal life around the world. By the time we got through it all, we were starting to drag, but an entire floor of exhibits still awaited us. We needed another break and found a concession area eat some goldfish crackers and recharge.

What I love about the Field Museum was its mix of old-school museum exhibits combined with modern displays. We sat in what essentially was a little break room that featured marine life exhibits on two sides. When one of the pop machines ate our quarters and I went to the front desk to get a refund, I was asked where and replied "the pop machines by the narwhals." (In fact, the reflection of the pop machines can be seen in my picture.) The last two exhibits we saw reflected this balance: Underground Adventure, which shows what life is like three inches under the soil if you were 1/100th your original size, and the ancient Egypt exhibit, which displays a collection the museum has owned for decades.

After Egypt, we were exhausted and left the museum, unfortunately missing a couple things we might have found interesting. The Field Museum is definitely a good place to carry a membership. We returned to our car and fought traffic through downtown to get back to my dad's house.

Wife and I got another dinner on our own again (thanks, Dad and Suzy!) and went to Hackney's in Glenview for a burger. We stopped at Trader Joe's for the first time (Utah so needs one of these) and drove around the North Shore for a little while, being in no desperate need to get back. On the return trip, WLS-FM played "Life Is a Rock (but the Radio Rolled Me)" complete with "WLS Rolled Me" in the chorus. I drove a few extra minutes to hear that, because that's something that belongs in a museum.

(Slug Bug standings after Day 4: Eldest 11, Littlest 10, me 9, Wife 9)

(More on our vacation: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3)


Click here for Day 5.

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